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The award

Requirements
What legal requirements are there for recognition of an award? Must reasons be given for the award? Does the award need to be reviewed by any other body?

Under Article 43(1) of the DIFC Arbitration Law, a party may ask the DIFC court to issue an order recognising an arbitration award made in the DIFC. Article 43(2) provides that an order recognising an award will be issued in English and Arabic, unless the DIFC court determines otherwise. Either language version, in original and certified copy form, will constitute sufficient proof of recognition.

Article 38(2) of the DIFC Arbitration Law provides that the award shall state the reasons on which it is based, unless the parties have agreed otherwise or the award records a settlement between the parties in accordance with Article 37.  

Timeframe for delivery
Are there any time limits on delivery of the award?

The DIFC Arbitration Law does not specify a time limit for the issuing of the final award. The parties are free to agree on a time limit. 

Remedies
Does the law impose limits on the available remedies? Are some remedies not enforceable by the court?

The DIFC Arbitration Law imposes no limits on the remedies available to the parties. 

What interim measures are available? Will local courts issue interim measures pending constitution of the tribunal?

Article 24(1) of the DIFC Arbitration Law gives the tribunal clear and extensive powers to order interim measures. Article 24(1) largely reflects similar provisions found in the English Arbitration Act 1996. The tribunal will have the powers set out at Article 24(1), unless the parties have specifically agreed otherwise.

Under Article 24(3) of the DIFC Arbitration Law, the DIFC court may grant such interim orders in respect of arbitration proceedings as it may make in relation to proceedings in court and may issue interim measures pending constitution of the tribunal. 

Interest
Can interest be awarded?

In the DIFC, interest may be awarded on the principal claim at such rate as the tribunal thinks appropriate to the circumstances. 

At what rate?

Interest may be awarded on the principal claim at such rate as the tribunal thinks appropriate to the circumstances. 

Finality
Is the award final and binding?

Under Article 42(1) of the DIFC Arbitration Law, an arbitral award shall be recognised as binding within the DIFC, irrespective of the state or jurisdiction in which it was issued and provided that it does not trigger any of the grounds for refusal of recognition or enforcement by the DIFC court under Article 44.

What if there are any mistakes?

Article 40 of the DIFC Arbitration Law provides that tribunals may correct their awards. Under Article 40(1)(a) a party may, with notice to the other party, request that the tribunal correct any computational, clerical, typographical or other errors contained in the award. Article 40(1) provides that the tribunal shall make any amendments within 30 days of any request, provided that it considers such requests to be justified.

Pursuant to Article 40(3), a party may request that the tribunal make an additional award as to claims presented in the arbitral proceedings but omitted from the award within 30 days of receipt of the award. If the tribunal considers the request to be justified, it will make the additional award within 60 days.

Can the parties exclude by agreement any right of appeal or other recourse that the law of your jurisdiction may provide?

The DIFC Arbitration Law does not specifically allow or prohibit the parties from excluding their rights to recourse against the award. 

Appeal
What is the procedure for challenging awards?

In line with international practice, the awards of arbitrators cannot be appealed to the DIFC court. Under Article 41 of the DIFC Arbitration Law, however, awards may be challenged on jurisdiction and due process grounds. 

Article 41(3) of the DIFC Arbitration Law provides that unless the parties agree otherwise, an application to set aside an award must be made within three months of the award having been received by the party applying. Under Article 44(3), a party’s failure to apply to the DIFC court to set aside an award made in the DIFC will bar that same party from invoking Article 44(1)(a) in order to resist an application to enforce the award pursuant to Article 44.

Articles 41(2)(a)(i) to (iv) of the DIFC Arbitration Law mirror Articles 34(2)(a)(i) to (iv) of the UNCITRAL Model Law with respect to the setting aside of awards.

Article 41(2)(b)(ii) of the DIFC Arbitration Law mirrors Article 34(2)(b)(ii) of the UNCITRAL Model Law in that it provides that an award may also be set aside if it conflicts with the public policy of the state, specifically the United Arab Emirates. The previous DIFC Arbitration Law (the 2004 law) referred to the public policy of the DIFC rather than the United Arab Emirates. Article 41(2)(b)(ii) also provides that an award may be set aside if the DIFC court finds that the dispute is expressly referred to a different body or tribunal for resolution under this law or any mandatory provision of DIFC law.

On what grounds can parties appeal an award?

There is no mechanism for an appeal on the merits. A party may apply to set aside an award in accordance with Article 41 of the DIFC Arbitration Law. Articles 41(2) and (3) provide the grounds for setting aside an award which include where:

  • a party was incapacitated;
  • the arbitration agreement was invalid;
  • there was insufficient notice;
  • a party was unable to present its case;
  • the award is beyond the scope of the arbitration agreement; 
  • the composition of tribunal or the procedure was outside the scope of the parties’ agreement or the DIFC Arbitration Law;
  • the dispute was not arbitrable under the DIFC Arbitration Law;
  • the dispute was expressly referred to a different body or tribunal; or
  • enforcement would be contrary to public policy.

Enforcement
What steps can be taken to enforce the award if there is a failure to comply?

The enforcement regime in the DIFC is similar to that of many other jurisdictions with modern arbitration laws. The recognition and enforcement of awards is set out in Articles 42, 43 and 44 of the DIFC Arbitration Law. The grounds for refusing to recognise or enforce an award are set out in Article 44 and include where:

  • a party was incapacitated;
  • the arbitration agreement was invalid;
  • there was insufficient notice;
  • a party was unable to present its case;
  • the award is beyond the scope of the arbitration agreement;
  • the composition of the tribunal or the procedure was outside the parties’ agreement or the law of the state or jurisdiction where the arbitration took place;
  • the award is not yet binding on the parties or has been set aside or suspended by a court of the state in which the award was made;
  • the dispute was not arbitrable under DIFC law; or
  • enforcement would be contrary to public policy.

Can awards be enforced in local courts?

Yes. 

How enforceable is the award internationally?

Arbitral awards issued in the DIFC are generally enforceable internationally. As the DIFC is within the United Arab Emirates, an award made in the DIFC is a New York Convention award for the purposes of recognition and enforcement. 

To what extent might a state or state entity successfully raise a defence of state or sovereign immunity at the enforcement stage?

The DIFC Arbitration Law contains no provisions on sovereign or state immunity. 

Are there any other bases on which an award may be challenged, and if so, by what?

The DIFC Arbitration Law provides no additional grounds under which an award may be challenged. 

How enforceable are foreign arbitral awards in your jurisdiction?

Foreign awards are enforceable subject to Article 44 of the DIFC Arbitration Law.

Will an award that has been set aside by the courts in the seat of arbitration be enforced in your jurisdiction?

Under Article 44(1)(a)(v) of the DIFC Arbitration Law, the DIFC may refuse to enforce an award where the award has been set aside or suspended by a court of the state or jurisdiction in which, or under the law of which, that award was made.

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